• Cass Polzin

From Restaurant Partnerships to Agency Partnerships

This article is part of our Uncovering the Partnerships Career Path spotlight series. Each week, a different professional joins us to share their take on the partnerships career path, responsibilities at each stage, best practices for advancing professionally, and more. Learn more in the intro article.


Today we’re joined by Barrett King, Enterprise Channel Partner Manager at HubSpot, to discuss how he ended up in tech partnerships from restaurant management, his advice for effective partner management, and more.


Thanks to Allbound for sponsoring this quarter’s spotlight series!

Allbound is a SaaS Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform that gives its customers visibility into predictable channel revenue, indirect and direct pipeline, and insight into partner engagement and adoption. With Allbound, you have the ability to monitor, understand, and track partner behavior so you can measure, iterate, and improve.


Barrett’s Path to Partnerships

While there is no one “right” way into partnerships, Barrett’s path was pretty unique. He graduated with a digital design degree and while he really enjoyed the work, he didn’t like the idea of sitting at a computer doing independent work all day. Leaving his first role in design, Barrett got into restaurant hospitality. It was there that he began the early phases of a partnerships career. “When I reflect on partnerships, I connect it to the early stages of restaurant management. I had to develop relationships with other restaurants, businesses, and fiduciary partners.”


Barrett built partnerships in restaurant management for a while, partnering with organizations like Fidelity and Morgan Stanley. After a few years in restaurant management, Barrett made his first venture into tech. At LevelUp, Barrett partnered with regional jewelers and B2C businesses to coordinate a promotional scavenger hunt. “I had to work with Long’s Jewelers and partner with other vendors, solutions, and PR to get exposure for this big event running a scavenger hunt downtown. We built super crazy fun projects that garnered a ton of PR.”


From there, in a culmination of his experiences, Barrett worked at a tech company that helped restaurants. “The dynamic was interesting. I partnered with the national restaurant association — I partnered with their CEO at the time. My goal was to build channel, but I didn't realize it at the time.”


After that company was acquired, Barrett’s friend encouraged him to join HubSpot, sharing that the organization fundamentally changes people’s lives. After six years building out a successful acquisition process and expanding partnerships, Barrett’s still enjoying (and excelling in) his role at HubSpot.


Partner Management at HubSpot

Barrett is an Enterprise Channel Partner Manager at HubSpot, where his responsibility is to support partners in how they package, price, and grow using their suite of tools. However, Barrett has had a substantial impact on HubSpot in his six years at the organization. He was the first individual who got the chance to build out a really successful new hire training program across regions and offices.


Over the past four years, Barrett has helped develop HubSpot’s channel partners. Today in his role, he works with a top partner to do their business planning. He builds their sales revenue goals, engineers an account plan for those individuals, plans marketing to back that up, as well as ensures a customer success team to grow impact for cross-selling, up-selling, and retention.


Of his goals, Barrett shared, “Any company wants you to sell more and retain more. We get to be true growth coaches. We get to help partners impact the trajectory of their organizations and drive significant impact and growth. The function is a bottoms-up analysis: how do they work with, expand, retain the customer. I work with their sales to learn how they sell, prospect, and source. How are they generating opportunities? With what messaging?”


One of the aspects Barrett enjoys is it's a full business lifecycle management role. “If the partner allows for it, you become a full partner in their business. We’re treated as C-suite in their organization. At HubSpot we are fortunate to hire smart people and we empower people to be creative in how they do their jobs. A framework is good for certain organizations. At HubSpot, we set guard rails and then allow you to drive within those guard rails to be successful. It creates a unique experience for each partner.”


Why HubSpot?

Barrett has been at HubSpot for a while, but he didn’t specifically seek a role there. “I tripped and fell and landed at HubSpot. What hooked me early on was being around really smart, very committed people. I have been around smart people, but I've never experienced that level of commitment. I also enjoyed the sense of entrepreneurial freedom. My selling point wasn't transformational sales, it was additive sales.”


His strategies were effective too. Barrett helped 6x a partner's revenue in a year and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. “They have continued drastic growth over the last few years. New challenges are presented each year to impact partners’ businesses. I've watched a partner who started with two people become a Platinum Partner with over 15 employees, they're heavily involved in the community and invested in our mutual teams’ success. She has been able to change her business opportunity because of HubSpot.”


Advice for Advancing in Partnerships

Barrett shared a lot of strong advice for being successful in a partnerships role. “Be a student of your industry. Understand the things your customers care about: lean into who they were, and who they want to be. I love the idea of falling madly in love with your partner's challenge. As you evolve, you realize impacting the growth of their business helps them sell more of your product. Lean in and understand the fundamentals of their business — what are the unit economics, the things they care about and measure on, even if it doesn't directly impact you.”


Along the same lines as learning about your partners, Barrett advocates for caring about them as people. “The other thing that's important is actively listening with the intent to understand, not to respond. The more you invest in understanding, the more impactful you become in terms of sitting at the same table as them. It’s about investing in understanding and alignment. I treat all of my partners like I'm a part of their business, but I also care about what they did over the weekend that keeps them fulfilled. When you invest in the people, you get the results you want.”


Finally, Barrett highlighted the benefits of flexibility. “Be dynamic, be flexible. Our industry and profession aren’t regimented. If you understand what tool fits what scenario, then you'll be able to act dynamically to solve your partners’ problems as you go.”


Barrett’s Next Steps

Short term, Barrett sees himself continuing at HubSpot into sales leadership. “Growing a company from $150 million to $1 billion is incredible. I’m really excited to see what happens in the next few years. There's impact potential in that next growth curve. Now, I want to teach others how to do that as they scale. At some point, I do see myself moving on. I see myself progressing into potentially a Head of Partners, really interesting and impactful opportunities. I might also move into Head of Revenue at the right firm.”


In the following years, Barrett wants to shift into a role with more impact. “For me, it's taking the awesome experience I have had and using it to impact others. It's really important to me to help others. I get to do so in my seat but want to do it more formally. I would like to transfer into a role at an earlier stage business, something like a 100-person company because you can drive real impact. At that scale, you can own channel, direct, and GTM growth levers in a business. It’s important to bring experience, and help them grow.”


Ten years out, Barrett has his sights set on becoming CRO of a company. “I’d like to own an entire firm's opportunity to impact the market. I'd like to lead something, grow something while impacting the employee and customer base — both their revenue and lives.”


Take Your Career Next Step

Partnership Leaders enables personal and professional development. This quarter, we’re exploring the partnerships career path, what it takes to advance in partnerships, and resources for excelling in your career. Dig into all of this quarter’s interviews for actionable insights you can apply in your role or to get a new role.


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